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The small UE WONDERBOOM has a circular form factor, which means 360 degrees of sound, even when in water (it boasts an IPX7 rating for submersion in three feet of water for up to 30 minutes). Roughly the size of a grapefruit, the WONDERBOOM easily fits in a backpack or beach bag and, with 10 hours of battery life, there’s plenty of power for an all-day party.
It's been drop tested from up to five feet and has a hanging loop on top that attaches to a bag or backpack. The speaker has a class-leading range of 100 feet of sound with Bluetooth technology. It's also possible to connect two Bluetooth devices at the same time in case you and a friend both was to play DJ. Plus, the WONDERBOOM can also sync up to eight additional UE products for a true left-right surround sound experience.
The JBL Charge 4 sits at the intersection of tech and nature: the latest in JBL’s Charge series is durable and waterproof, and boasts up to 20 hours of battery life, meaning it can keep up with hardcore hikers or relaxed campers. The Charge 4 includes that much longevity thanks to a 7500mAh battery, an upgrade to the previous Charge 3’s already hefty 6000mAh.
But a big battery doesn’t mean a big device, and the speaker weighs just over two pounds, making it easy to toss into a bag and trek into the great outdoors. Audio quality is excellent: dual passive radiators create a rich, resonating bass, and for a surround sound experience, JBL Connect+ lets it partner with 100 other speakers from the company. Its Bluetooth capabilities enable it to connect with devices up to 30 feet away, and the device is available in ten different colors like green, yellow, blue, pink, and teal.
Constructed with adventure in mind, the Bose SoundLink micro Bluetooth speaker is proof that the company knows how to get big sound out of small speakers. Bose’s claim that the SoundLink is only tiny until you turn it on couldn’t be more accurate. Measuring 3.87 x 1.37 inches and weighing 10.24 ounces, the SoundLink can safely fit into a pocket or, with the flexible, tear-resistant rear clip, attach to a backpack, bicycle or beach bag. The silicone rubber exterior feels good in-hand and an IPX7 rating means it’s resistant to water.
Available in three assorted colors, the SoundLink provides up to six hours of music time and up to 30 feet of Bluetooth range. The built-in speaker is good for taking with calls and, with support for Siri and Google Assistant, it’s responsive to voice commands. Connecting to Bose's downloadable smartphone app, users can swap between multiple devices, which allows up to two people to select music at a time.
There’s portable and then there’s the UE Roll 2, which at .73 pounds, makes it lighter than a can of soda. The UE Roll 2 is small at 1.6 x 5.3 x 5.3 inches and, fortunately, the small size doesn’t affect the audio quality or wireless range. UE takes the Roll 2 up a notch with a wireless range that extends to almost 100 feet before audio will start cutting out. As for the audio quality itself, the smaller size means less bass response overall, but mids and highs sound great and make this a perfect poolside or beach companion. Although there’s no dedicated bass driver here, there’s a two-inch main driver and two smaller .75-inch tweeters, which sound great at both low and high volume with little distortion overall.
The overall design is sleek; the grille itself is tough featuring a nylon weave texture that seems both durable and solid all while not being considered a “rugged” speaker. As for fighting the elements, the UE Roll 2 features an IPX7 rating, which allows sustaining submersion in water for 30 minutes at a depth of one meter before worrying about losing your investment. Unfortunately, the smaller size does mean a slightly smaller battery, but UE still manages to crank out an impressive nine hours of life before it requires a recharge. An included bungee cord allows you to strap it to a bike or backpack and there is an available smartphone app for controlling the party from a distance.
With outstanding sound quality, a lengthy battery life and protection against the elements (IPX-5 rating), the Anker SoundCore 2 is worth a hard look. Anker’s inclusion of their exclusive BassUp technology incorporates a patented spiral bass port that takes the low-end sound to new depths for a balanced sound. In addition, the 12-watt dual drivers add dynamically balanced clear highs and mids that don't distort even at high volumes. Supporting the impressive audio quality is a well-constructed unibody design that’s friendly to hold and transport and offers three different colors to choose from. Packed with Bluetooth 4.2, the Anker adds a strong connection between any Bluetooth device and the speaker, with a stable connection up to 66 feet away. Beyond its range, Anker delivers a 5,200mAh battery that allows for 24 hours of battery life.
Targeted to the outdoor crowd looking for a go-anywhere, do-anything Bluetooth speaker, the Fugoo Style S is a solid choice. Rated IP67 for outdoor use, the Style S can withstand up to three feet of water for 30 minutes and is dust-, snow- and shock-resistant to drops. Measuring 8.3 x 2.9 x 2.5 inches in size, the tanned mesh body of the Style S has three buttons on top for controlling the volume, pausing or playing the track, as well as engaging Siri or Google Assistant. The Fugoo’s 20 watts of power helps the Style S get loud with vibrant highs and clear bass. With a range of 100 feet, the Style S maintains a strong connection outdoors and can pair with another Style S to create left and right sound. It doubles as a speakerphone with a built-in microphone for phone calls and has a 15-hour battery life.
There's no shortage of great-sounding Bluetooth speaker options, but the the UE Boom 2 offers remarkable sound, with two 1.75-inch active drivers and three-inch passive radiators. Bass levels are both solid and have just enough of a beat to not feel overdone (and you can manually control it via an available iPhone and Android smartphone app, so you can reduce the treble to find the perfect pitch and sound). While it won't fill a whole house with sound, that's not the intent of Bluetooth speakers at this size and so long as you don't crank the volume all the way up to 100 percent, you'll find no distortion from the Boom 2.
The IPX7-rated Boom 2 offers waterproofing up to 30 minutes and three feet of depth before there's a risk to the internal hardware. The IP rating also includes shockproof certification making the Boom 2 the perfect add-on to your gear for a party on the beach. Available in a slew of colors, the Boom offers up to 15 hours of battery life and up to 100 foot Bluetooth wireless range. As a bonus, UE also included "say it to play it" with Siri and Google Now integration for Android and iPhone smartphone owners.
In the "perfect for outdoors" Bluetooth speaker space, "budget" is a relative term since there's still added cost for something more durable and rugged than the typical Bluetooth speaker. At just 6.49 ounces and 3.7 x 1.6 x 5.5 inches in size, the JBL Clip 2 is both budget and backpack-friendly, so don't let its wallet-friendly pricing fool you. The Clip 2 features IPX7 waterproof protection with 30 minutes of protection in three feet of water. The all-plastic housing features a nylon grill covering and a built-in carabiner that allows you to connect the Clip 2 to pretty much anything. The integrated 3.5mm cable can connect to devices sans Bluetooth for a quick connection without paired devices.
Roughly the size of a hockey puck, the Clip 2 punches well above its pay grade when it comes to sound. Realistically, the Clip 2 sounds best when its volume is amped up; softer volumes come in a little thinner and flatter. Regardless of volume, the audio quality is distortion-free and has plenty of warmth with the highs.
Beyond volume, JBL offers more than eight hours of battery life on the Clip 2 and based on numerous online reviews, that number very well may be conservative with multiple users seeing more than 10 hours of use. If you're looking for something inexpensive, but still durable enough for the pool or beach, the Clip 2 is the best budget-friendly Bluetooth speaker available.
Sound quality - The best way to test sound quality is by listening in person, but if you’re buying a speaker online, that’s not possible. However, you can ensure quality audio by having a close look at a few specific specs, most notably the sensitivity rating. Sensitivity is measured in decibels (dB) and indicates how loud the speaker can get. If you buy a speaker in the 86 to 90 dB range, you’ll be in good shape.
Portability - If you’re on the move often, it’s important that your speaker can be tossed in your backpack without weighing you down. The best outdoor stereos will have a lightweight, compact design but still produce booming sound. Another factor relating to portability is the battery life, as a dead speaker can really kill the party. Most speakers will average about 8 to 24 hours of playtime per charge, depending on how loud you’re playing the music.
Durability - Whether you’re hitting the beach or roaming the great outdoors, you’ll need a speaker that can endure unexpected waves or rain showers. Check the IP rating to determine how waterproof a speaker is: IPX7 is pretty standard, allowing the device to be fully submerged in up to one meter of water for up to 30 minutes.